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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Veg Power for Running - my go to is Vega!

Veggie power for running and working out? You betcha! 

Finally, vegan athletes are becoming more mainstream. You certainly hear a lot more about them which I think is GREAT. The reality is that you can be just as strong, more fit and faster with a plant based lifestyle. 


I realize that I've only been running for a few months, but I know that in order to be my best at it I need to fuel my body in the right way. I have always loved the Vega line developed by Brendan Brazier a vegan professional Ironman triathlete and best-selling author on plant-based nutrition. I found out about it shortly after going vegan because I needed something portable that I could take with me when I travel for work. So I started with the Vega Whole Food Optimizer (now reformulated and called Vega One). It's easy to take a bag of the powder with me in my suitcase, along with my magic bullet blender and make a quick Vega shake in the morning. My go to when I travel is usually the chocolate one blended with water and a banana. If I'm in a hotel where I have a mini-fridge then I usually make raw almond milk first and use that instead of water. Works great for my breakfast and keeps me full until lunch. Berry is my other go to flavor and if I actually have a hotel room with a little kitchenette, I'll use that one instead. I always do Berry in my green smoothies, so it's my most frequently used Vega product. 
 
 
Once I decided that I loved running, I knew I had to find something that would give me energy before my runs, keep me going during my runs and then help me recover properly after a run. Granted, my runs so far haven't been really long, but they are getting longer as I train for a half marathon. I know that keeping my body fueled will be a huge help while running and also in the recovery phase. And the VegaSport line also works great for my TurboFire HIIT workouts and strength training.




Last year, Vega redesigned their VegaSport line and I knew I had to try it since I am a total devotee to the Vega line. So I got my first few items and started to try them out. So here's my review of the items I have used. The VegaSport line is broken in to 3 groups - prepare - sustain - recover. 


 PREPARE 

Pre-workout Energizer: Love this one. It's a powder that comes in two flavors (lemon-lime and acai berry). I got the lemon lime one, haven't tried the acai berry yet. Great taste. You simply mix a scoop with 8 ounces of cold water and drink it 20 minutes before your workout. I love this product. My preferred running time is in the morning so for runs that are less than 3-4 miles, this gets me ready and keeps me going during my run. If I have a longer run, I usually do a small smoothie about an hour before I run and tend to use one modified from Brendan's book, Thrive Fitness (usually a 1/2 scoop of VegaOne with 10 ounces water, plus 1/2 cup frozen blueberries and 1/2 banana) that tends to fuel me up for a longer run. Then I sometimes do the Pre-workout energizer 20 minutes before Roxy (my free personal trainer, running buddy and superstar dog!) and I leave the house.

SUSTAIN

Three products in this line and yep, I have tried them all. Used them on my longer runs where I feel like I need a bit of fuel to keep myself going. I know I'll be using them on my upcoming 8K, quarter marathon and half marathon. 


Electrolyte Hydrator: This is cool because it's a healthy hydrator, NOT a sugar laden or artificial sweetener filled sports drink that does more harm than good. Two flavors - lemon-lime and pom berry. Haven't tried the pom-berry yet, but I like the lemon-lime, although I tend to dilute it out a bit more than it says to. You just mix it with water, stick it in your water bottle and off you go. 

Endurance Bar: Although my longest run so far has been 5 miles, I have tried this because I want to see how it works with my runs so I know if it'll be something I can use during a longer run. Again, two flavors - mocha and acai-berry. Of course, I'm never one to pass up anything called mocha so that's the flavor I chose first. I like it. I'm not sure if I like the bar for during runs because it feels weird to "eat" something while I'm running, but I know it's a great "combination of energizing complex carbohydrates and a blend of protein to give you longer-burning energy to get you through the toughest workouts". Just have to work myself into trying it more during long runs and getting over the "eating" factor. I did try the acai-berry also and it's okay, but mocha wins in my book! 

Endurance Gel:  Love this product. So this is a healthy vegan version of energy gels that many runners use during longer runs. So instead of "gu" or "clif-shot" or one of those non vegan gels, here's a great answer for vegans or anyone who wants a high quality energy gel. Two flavors - orange zest (my favorite) and raspberry. I like the idea of this because it's easy to just squeeze some in your mouth and it sits well in my stomach and no chewing is required! 


RECOVER

Recovery Accelerator: Great product, I use it after every run or hard workout to make sure my muscles and the rest of my body get what they need to start the recovery process. I like this one so much and think it's so important I had to copy the product info. 




From VegaSport: The unique formula of Recovery Accelerator features an innovative blend of 23 synergistic plant-based ingredients, like glucosamine, MacaSure, devil’s claw, L-arginine and American ginseng, specifically selected to:

  • Replenish energy and electrolytes
  • Reduce inflammation, muscle and joint pain
  • Support immune system function and protein synthesis
  • Reduce recovery time between training

Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator also features a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, a combination shown to increase muscle glycogen re-synthesis—a crucial component of post-workout recovery.

If you aren't giving your body what it needs to recover after a hard workout then you aren't treating your body right after you just put it through some tough paces. One scoop into cold water, shake and drink within 20 minutes of your workout. Your muscles deserve it! Comes in tropical (my fav) and apple-berry (haven't tried that one yet). Love this stuff and won't go without it.

Performance Protein: About 30-90 minutes after my workout I use Performance Protein. One scoop, water, shake it up and drink it down! Three flavors - berry, vanilla and chocolate. I use the berry most, but also like the vanilla. Haven't tried the chocolate yet, but plan to. If I'm home then I sometimes throw it in my vitamix and add 1/2 banana and 1/2 cup berries to it to make it more of a meal replacement shake. Works great after a morning run and keeps me going until lunch.

Protein Bar: Big time yum factor here. And honestly, if feels a bit guilty to eat one of these. I have tried many protein bars over the years and let's face it, they usually taste disgusting and they are hard to choke down. Not these! These taste like you are being just a little bit bad and sneaking a candy bar. They come in chocolate coconut or chocolate saviseed. Both are great. I don't do these too often because they do have a bit more sugar in them then I like to take in, so usually if I have one, I only eat half and definitely not every day. They have 15g of plant based protein so it's a great protein source, but really tastes like a candy bar to me. I save these as a treat for a day when I do a longer run or harder workout.


The thing I like most about the VegaSport line is that it is all vegan and plant powered! Second, I don't have to think about what to take in before, during or after a run or workout. They have figured it all out for me. I mean, I'm a smart girl and I know I could figure out the 4:1 carb:protein ratio I need after a run. And yes, I could figure out the right amount of instant and slower burning carbs that will give me energy before a run or a tough workout. But with VegaSport, it is all figured out for me. Third, they all taste good. I mean really, if something doesn't taste good, how long are you going to continue to use it? If you are me, not long. I actually look forward to my recovery drinks because they taste great and help to restore my body and help it recover for my next workout. 

By the way, vegan or not, these are great products for anyone who wants to fuel their body using great nutrition!

And no, I don't work for Vega! :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm a runner? Me? Really?

I started running last December. Let me preface that with this...I have never liked running. In fact, I hated running. I played 2 years of softball in high school and the thing I dreaded was running, not around the bases, but having to do laps. I HATED it. I can walk for days, but run, me? No way. My knees aren't the strongest so I really didn't think I could run.



I'm a runner! 

I like a good challenge, I have a competitive streak, just ask anyone I work with when it comes to games of work knowledge! I like to push myself to be better and I really love to push myself to be healthier, fitter and stronger. So then I thought "Why not me? Why should I limit myself? Why should I keep using my knees and ankle as an excuse? Why should I look at others and think, what if that was me, what if I was a runner? Why should I put off doing something that can make me stronger and make me healthier? Why not me?"

And why not you?  Why would you not want to do something positive for yourself to make you live a healthy, long life? I'm not saying running is it, but challenge yourself. Make small changes and you may just see big results! The worst that can happen is that you fail and you'll never know until you try. It's better to try and fail then to never try at all.


So I got a little bit of encouragement and thought, hey if other people can do it, so can I. I didn't have a lot of weight to lose, just really wanted to lose the extra "fluff" around my mid section. That's where my extra weight has always been, no matter what I do. I definitely lost some of that when I switched to a plant based diet, but some of it is still hanging around. I think in college I actually had a nice flat stomach...alas, those days are long gone. I'm okay with that, I don't expect to ever have washboard abs. But I wanted to do something to help get rid of some of it because it's the worst place to carry weight from a health standpoint. 

So how did this chick who hated running start running and actually like it? SLOWLY! Roxy (my superstar dog) and I have always been big walkers, there isn't a hill we won't conquer and can easily do 4-5 miles around Mt. Tabor with ease. However, I think it wasn't enough for her. She needed more, she loves to run and I figured if I could incorporate some running into our walking, that would be a good start. So we would walk for 10 minutes to warm up, run for 2-3 then walk for 3-5, and so on. Each week we would decrease the walking and add more running. And guess what? It worked. Now we can run 3-5 miles with only stopping for her "business" or for about 30 seconds every now and then to re-group and start again. 

And all this running has been working, my mid section is slimming down. My body feels stronger and I found that runners high that all runners talk about. That runners high is totally worth the work! So in order to keep myself going, I signed up for runs in increasing distance. 


Heartbreaker 5K on 2/19 (my first race ever!)
Shamrock 8K on 3/18
Hippie Chick Quarter marathon on 5/12
Inaugural Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half marathon on 5/20 (my vegan running friend is going to join me - yippee!)




I also joined Portland Fit and training starts Feb. 25. It will be good to have some official training to give me some pointers on form, etc. 

My knees don't hurt, at first they were a bit upset, but now they are used to it and because I started slow they adjusted. My only sore point is my right ankle. When I was 5 I was riding on the back of my dad's bike and all the time he would say "don't put your feet in the spokes, keep them out". Well, guess what? My right foot went into the spokes and broke my right ankle. My mom said I screamed all the way to the hospital (I was a child who could scream so loud that glass would almost break!). I was in a walking cast for about 6 weeks and I'm pretty sure that's why my right foot/ankle does not like to bend the way my left one does. It's always fun to explain that to a massage therapist or when I get a pedicure. "Sorry my foot doesn't bend like that so stop trying to make it bend".

So sometimes my ankle gets a bit mad at me, but since I treat it nicely (RICE) it's still willing to put in the work. I remember being in college at a coffee shop and a guy pulled up with his kid on a seat on the back and I saw that they now make clear plastic things that cover the spokes to prevent that from happening...only if they had those in the 70's wouldn't that have been great.


So if I can do it...anyone can and I mean ANYONE! I'm living proof. Now...about that half marathon...yikes! I'll make it, might walk some, but as long as I can finish I'll be happy! 




Now go eat your veggies...and go out and get some exercise!